The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

October 17, 2013

School pool contract stirs debate

By Robert Stoneback
The Danville News

— DANVILLE — School board members approved a rental fee for the use of the community center’s swimming pool, though some board members were discontent that the contract was only given to them just before swim season.

The rental fee, which did not increase over last year, was $16,480 for use by members of the high school swim team. The contract was up for vote at the board’s Oct. 8 meeting.

The timing is the same every year, said board member Dawn Koons-Gill, in that the board only gets a contract shortly before swim season starts. She said she would prefer if they could get the contract earlier in the year, such as spring, which would give the board more time to negotiate.

Board member Joe Stemm agreed. “This is déjà vu all over again. This same discussion was raised last year … Here we are a year later, it’s the same story and nothing has changed,” Stemm said.

Board president Allan Schappert suggested the fee be paid now and resolve to have business manager Janis Venna investigate whether it’s possible to get the pool approval contract earlier next year.

The motion passed 7-1, with Stemm voting against and board vice president David Weader abstaining.

Jean Knouse, director of the Danville Area Community Center, said she usually submits a response regarding rental fees shortly after the school board develops a budget in May or June.

Schappert said that while this cost analysis supplied by Knouse is usually accurate to the final contract, it is not presented in a form that the board can take official action on. Until the board receives an actual document to vote on, they cannot make the agreement official, he said. Fault for that partly lies on the board for not acting on the matter sooner, he said.

While the board occasionally has questions for the community center, it is still “a good relationship where they offer facilities and things we don’t have that we need that doesn’t make sense for our capabilities,” he said. “One thing I can say with certainty, if you’re a school district you absolutely do not want to own your own pool. The maintenance costs alone will put a hole the size of a cannonball in your budget and it costs big bucks just to build the thing.”

The community center provides complimentary membership to swim team members during their sport’s season, which allows them to practice whenever they need to, Knouse said.

At no extra charge, the community center also agreed to develop a program where students at Danville’s new e-Learning Cyber Academy could use the pool, Knouse said.

“We know that it’s expensive to fund a swim team that swims in an indoor pool. We make every effort to offer up opportunities to other organizations within the school district to make it even more beneficial for the school district to fund the swimming program,” she said. “We really appreciate to have the opportunity to partner with the school district.”

At the meeting, Superintendent Cheryl Latorre said Knouse would be wiling to expand options offered to the district at the community center if that’s something the administration wanted to pursue. “Swimming is one sport that most kids can participate in,” Latorre said.